1504.0 - Methodological News, Sep 2008  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 23/09/2008   
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New Survey Collects Information on both Agricultural Production and Resource Management Activities of Farms

The Agriculture Commodity Survey is an annual survey which collects detailed information about agriculture commodities and water usage to measure agriculture activity throughout Australia and provide information regarding its contribution to national production. The user funded Resource Management Survey was to be a sub-sample of the 2007-08 Agriculture Commodity Survey with the aim of collecting information on the resource management practices of farms and linking them with key information such as commodities and farm characteristics.

As part of the ABS budget savings announced earlier in 2008, significant funds were required to be saved from the Agriculture program for the 2008-09 financial year (2007-08 survey period). A number of options for the Agriculture Survey were considered to save the required funds, but the requirements of the users of the Agriculture survey data and the fact that the user funded Resource Management Survey was required to be linked with the Agriculture Survey determined the final outcome. By reducing the content of the Agriculture commodities collected to only essential or signpost commodities and then combining this with the Resource Management Survey to form the Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS), the objectives of both original collections could still be met.

Combining these two collections into one presented a number of challenges in regards to the sample design. There was a large amount of commodity information available for design purposes but very little historical information for the resource management questions of the ARMS. The final sample design resulted in a slight reduction in sample size to collect the signpost commodities when compared to past Agriculture surveys (35,000 down to 30,000) with the same level of accuracy for these commodities as past Agriculture Surveys. It also resulted in an increased sample size for the Resource Management Survey which was originally planned to be a sub-sample of 20,000 farms.

Not only did this new survey design meet the overall budget savings required and maintain the time series of the major agricultural commodities, but it also increased the expected accuracy of the Resource Management estimates and provided a larger linking population due to its larger sample size. By removing the need for a sub-sample for the Resource Management Survey, the overall load placed on respondents was also reduced significantly.

For more information, please contact Alan Herning on (02) 6252 5350 or alan.herning@abs.gov.au.